Mary Beth Writes

This is a lemming. Make mistakes this year, but don’t make the lemming mistake.


This morning, while looking in our under-the-fridge freezer for soup for supper (neither of us want to cook today), we discovered a towel-wrapped lettuce. What can I say? It’s a whole new mistake to make that we have never made before.

We were putting our groceries away in a hurry last Thursday evening. I DO remember rinsing and wrapping the lettuce in that towel, which (if you don’t put it in the freezer) makes lettuce last longer. I don’t remember actually putting it in the freezer but this is possible. Or Len did. This is an equal opportunity mistakes-making home.

Welcome to the New Year. There are things to do and mistakes to make and I hope the mistakes are no worse than frozen lettuce.

Here is an interesting (to me) thing. The occupational therapist at the rehab hospital tested Len’s readiness to drive this way. Len had to walk up and down (she was along to supervise) all four corridors of the hospital. While two-handedly passing a tennis ball around himself in a circle from front to back to front to back. While reading the names of the people in the rooms as they walked past them. He did this very well, though it was the closest he’d been to a tennis ball since we had a dog.

I guess this is how to not make too many mistakes.

  • Balance and locomotion should be instinctual and smooth. If it isn’t, practice more.
  • Invent new ways to move – some of us should dance or build and fashion new things way more than we do. Play-dough might upgrade our dexterity. 
  • Look around at what is slightly different and notice what we are seeing.

Yesterday we went to Madison to visit our kids. I drove there. Len drove us home. It’s newish for me to expect myself to do half the driving, so I guess I’m changing a little. It’s awesome that Len can drive again.

When we were dating Len took me to a small theater production of a weird play about Arctic explorers. I have just looked online for way too long and I can’t find any clues as to what that play it was. Anyways, there was a scene where one of the explorers was ill and not getting better. The other guys were trying to help him but couldn’t; meanwhile their supplies were running out. The sick but nobly gallant guy gets up and says he’s going for a walk. This is the Arctic or Antarctica in a blizzard. He goes outside, unzips his parka, wanders off to die while making a heartfelt speech.

So here we are in Omicron and there are moments I think I will just wander into a grocery store, tear off my mask, and make a speech about the great life I was privileged to have.

This is my attempt at dark humor. Because seriously, what other kind of humor is there, these days?

We had a lovely quiet New Years weekend. Again. Not sure I really wanted to read more novels and then fall sound asleep at 9:20 on NY Eve. But I did. Watching a lit-up Times Square ball drop on a 26” TV screen is not something I cared to spend three more hours to watch.

This is where we are now.

What are you doing, besides going to work in a hazmat suit, to get through this thick part of quarantine? Again?


In case you would like to read something that actually informs your life, I have been meaning for a while to mention the daily posts of Heather Cox Richardson. Click here:  Heather Cox Richardson on Substack 

The woman is smart and her writing is clear. Of all the things I pay attention to as I try to keep up with what's happening around us, I think her daily letter is the best.





Aaaaarrrgh! We've all been there in one way or another. Sigh. My youngest son is getting married at the end of February. With Covid rearing its ugly head again, I'm now worried about catching it and not being able to attend. Or worse yet the bride or the groom catching it and having to reschedule everything (His lovely bride to be always wanted a Winter wedding). I know they are not alone in this as many couples have had to reschedule weddings and other events. With my husband and I both retired and just the two of us living in our home, we've decided we are both going to quarantine for two weeks prior to the wedding. No visitors, no going out except extreme emergencies. We're both vaxxed and boosted also. When they started planning this wedding over a year ago, I never dreamed that in 2022 we would still be in this fix. As for everyday living until our self imposed isolation, I keep following the CDC guidelines for masks, social distancing and getting vaccinated. I took my 13 year old grandson to the movies over the Christmas vacation and felt very unsafe. Too many people, no separation of rows and a man directly in back of us was coughing. Going back no time soon.
Mary Beth's picture

Oh man, I feel for you. Trying to be prudent and trying to have one's life at the same time has turned into such a mind-numbing hassle. If we knew what the future would be, we could wrap our lives around it - but it keeps changing. Your plan sounds smart to me - cloister in - bust out - go back to zero and hope!

Hey, I have been reading and supporting Heather for the past year! She is one smart cookie! At our house, we are now wearing those N95 masks…please, when will this ever end! We are only going to Dr and Vet appts, the grocery and sometimes church. Pretty boring life. We only see my son and his family who live 5 miles away. I want to have coffee at a diner with my friend or go out to eat with hubs. WHINE, WHINE, WHINE. The good news is we are healthy and retired and don’t have to go out..
Mary Beth's picture

Your comment "pretty boring" - yup, Mostly I love being introverted - but in the olden days it was my choice, not a survival strategy...

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The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...



How Do We Remember What We Remember?


The Jan 6 Hearings, huh? This is an amazing moment in US history and I’m trying to understand our incredibly intense response. Four of 10 voters have watched at least some of the hearings, which is 20,000,000 people. It’s not just me that can’t look away.

Our Terrible Canoe Adventure

The eagle photo was taken by Len - but not on this trip! 


We are fine but I have a tale to tell.

American Successes / American Failures

Did you ever have to tell the truth when it was hard? Did you ever lie to avoid a hard situation?  Did you ever know a hard, wrong thing but you told no one because it was going to be complicated and some people wouldn’t believe you and you might end up disrespected or worse for “telling on” someone else?

Most people work hard at learning truth-telling when they are 4 and 5-years old.

Molecule Moving


I didn’t know a Panoply of Dental Moments was coming my way this week, but such is life with teeth. One can brush, floss, slosh, and swish - but if one’s teeth want to crumble, they do. Yesterday I had my six-month cleaning. The hygienist said several times that I brush and floss beautifully. I was proud and thinking maybe I would give myself a “well-done” sticker when I got home. Then the dentist came in to do the check-up and said two fillings had cracks around them and needed to be replaced.

Rough Stories, Tough Week


Last Friday evening on PBS Tonight David Brooks said something like this. “I am afraid for all of us. The news just pummels us.”

There are as many tough stories as there are fingers on a closed fist. The shooting in Uvalde. The shooting in Buffalo. The corrupt power of the NRA and other obscene wealth-mongers that are destroying our society from the inside of elected reps’ pockets outwards. Ukraine. Global climate mayhem. Oh, and covid is everywhere. Less traumatic for most; long covid for some. So that’s six fingers on that pugilistic fist.

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